Opening Day 2012 will bring new dimensions to the Queens ballpark
The New York Mets lack of power in their new home, Citi Field, has been well documented. Stars like David Wright have had tremendous dips in their home run totals since the park opened in 2009. Several players from other teams have been very vocal about the dimensions of the field.
Players like Chipper Jones and Jeff Francouer have openly discussed their disdain with it. Jones had this to say,
" It is the biggest park that I have ever played in in my life. It is a huge ballpark to center and right center and right field. You know, I actually feel sort of sorry for some of the guys out there because their power numbers are really going to take a hit"
While Francoeur called the new ballpark "a joke."
The Mets have had trouble attracting offensive free agents since the word has spread throughout the league that Citi Field is where hitters go to die. The team's play on the field hasn't helped attract pitchers here either.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson has stated that he will be reworking the dimensions of the outfield. This isn't his first time tinkering with outfield dimensions, though. In San Diego, he changed the size of the walls and dimensions slightly. It led to a minimal rise in power for the Padres.
The expectation is that it will open up the offense and make home runs a little more frequent. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you ask. Therefore, let's take a look at some of the people involved in this decision that will be effected the most.
Dickey has had several great outings at the current Citi Field
Loser No. 5: R.A. Dickey
R.A. Dickey has a season ERA of 3.51 at Citi Field and a 1.99 ERA there as a Met. That's pretty good. He does well at home, as evidenced by his latest start there against Philadelphia over the weekend where he flirted with a no-hitter.
His ERA on the road this year is 2.99, which is fantastic. If they move the dimensions in just a tad, his knuckleball will dance around the strike zone and be hit deep. Before the move, it would be a fly ball out. After the move, it will be a double or a home run.
Dickey is a more of a fly-ball pitcher than most knucklers. His strikeout ratio went down this year from 1.26 per inning last season to 1.11 per inning this year. His fly-ball ratio has gone up as a direct result. He is getting more outs in the outfield than he did at first.
With the increased workload, comes an increased opportunity for his knuckleball to face constant exposure. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won't. Citi Field has saved some of those fly balls this year, and therefore, spared his ERA. A change in the dimensions may hurt his numbers a little bit.
He will be a free agent after next year. If he was thinking about extending his Mets tenure, his numbers will be different this time next year when facing free agency than they were this time last year. That could hurt his chances of coming back.
Gee took the league by storm this year, but next year may be very different
Loser No. 4: Dillon Gee
The New York Mets had a rookie pitcher really stand out this year. His name is Dillon Gee. He posted a 13-6 record with a 4.43 ERA. Of his home starts, he posted a 3.17 ERA. This was his first season as a regular starter thanks to the injury to Chris Young early in the year.
He had a total of 243 fly-ball outs in 26 starts. That's an average of 9.35 outs by fly balls. Granted, not all of those were at Citi Field but imagine if half of those nine outs at home became doubles or home runs. The already mediocre ERA would explode and Gee never gets the chance to create the feel good story he did this year.
That's exactly what he faces next season when they move the walls in at home. He will not be as effective as he was this season, and it will most likely lead to a demotion to the minors and the end to what could have been a brilliant MLB career.
If that's the worst case scenario, then the best case will still see his ERA go up a bit as his home run totals rise, but he stays with the club and figures out how to get more ground ball outs. Either way, Gee will have to make some type of adjustment that will directly impact his career.
All because the administration wants more long balls.
Mike Pelfrey may have to look elsewhere to rebound from his poor Mets career
Loser No. 3: Mike Pelfrey
For those waiting for Mike Pelfrey to finally "get it" or "turn the corner" as a starting pitcher, please don't bet your house on his 2012 season. You'll lose. If you thought he was a good pitcher at Citi Field, as proven by his 3.57 home ERA, than think again.
His 4.58 ERA overall will be closer to the numbers next year if and when the Mets move the fences in. Here's why. Of all of the pitchers on the staff, Mike Pelfrey is the one that relies on the fly ball outs the most.
He doesn't have any pitch that forces a ground ball. Instead, his 10.4 fly-ball outs per start are a major reason that his ERA combined with a change of dimensions will make him the next Oliver Perez.
For those thinking it's not a big deal and he isn't coming back next year anyway, think again. Reports today state otherwise.
According to The Star-Ledger, the Mets plan to re-sign Pelfrey for another season at $5 or $6 million next year. It is very plausible that he will be back and be even worse.
He admits his sinker is dreadful and he only has one good pitcha fastball. How far will his fastball get hit in the new Citi Field with no Mo's Zone and shorter walls? The answer? Very far. Unless he finds his sinker again, he will suffer next year in the new dimensions.
Parnell is not going to be the future closer in the new dimensions
Loser Number Two: Bobby Parnell
Bobby Parnell has had a roller-coaster season. His 3.72 ERA has not been horrible, but it's not great for a closer or in a set-up role. He's given up four home runs and 29 runs this year between those two roles.
His performance at home is even worse. In Citi Field, he has given up three of the four home runs this year (the only other was at the Marlins) and has a 3.95 ERA. His home ERA is even worse.
Based on these numbers, the Mets have already admitted they will be shopping for a closer in the off season. He has already lost the chance to close next year.
Add a change in dimensions to the home field and he may lose his role in the majors sometime next season. For a younger pitcher with such potential, that could be devastating.
His fastball, as good as it is, will get hit unless he develops a better secondary pitch. If he struggles, expect him to be sent down to do just that.
Jose Reyes needs to consider the changes before he re-signs
Loser Number One: Jose Reyes
The New York Mets built Citi Field to be a pitching and small-ball type of stadium. With that said, Jose Reyes fits perfectly into that mold. He is enjoying one of his best seasons as a Mets player. He has a .331 AVG with 30 doubles and 16 triples.
He is currently in the running for a batting title in the N.L. as a direct result of the ballpark he plays in. Though his AVG on the road is slightly lower than it is at home (.332), 12 of his 16 triples were hit there.
He has been highly coveted already as a potential free agent though the season is still being played. Former teammate Carlos Beltran is on record saying he wants to play with Reyes in San Francisco. That of course means the Giants would have to sign both players. That would cost them.
Therefore, Reyes needs to consider the new dimensions when he considers a contract from the Mets. They will effect his AVG when his doubles turn to singles and and triples turn to either doubles or outs trying to stretch doubles. His game would be a bit different in a Mets uniform next year.
He would have to be more of a base stealer than he is now. His ability to go first to third would not be as relevant since the opportunities to do so would be limited a bit due to the changes.
In the end, his game would not suffer enough to make him not worth a contract, but his production would be much lower than the mega-year, top-dollar contract would deserve. The team would begin to question if it was the right move and fans would begin to get frustrated with his inefficiency.
Reyes would have to consider all of that and realize that it's just not worth the hometown discount to be in the improved Citi Field.
In the end, ironically, the ones who lose the most would be the fans.
Murphy will increase his power numbers
Winner No. 5: Daniel Murphy
The Mets have a pure hitter for their lineup. The trouble is they don't know where to play him in the field. His name is Daniel Murphy. This season, he has played so many positions that it's hard to tell where to list him on the roster.
One thing is for sure, the Mets have stated they want him in the lineup next year. They have talked about auditioning him for the outfield, and they have mentioned that he may battle Justin Turner for the second base position.
Before he went down with a torn MCL on August 7th, he was batting .320 with six home runs and 49 RBI as the cleanup hitter. He was thrust into that spot due to multiple injuries from several players. He responded well at the plate.
The knock on him, though, is that he is not much of a power hitter and run producer. If he returns healthy to the lineup and they move the walls in (especially the porch in right field), he will get more home runs. He will produce more RBI in whatever spot of the order they put him in.
The biggest question for him is where to play him in the field. If he is eventually moved to the outfield, he will also benefit defensively by the changes to the dimensions. A shorter wall means a shorter distance to leap to try to make a good catch.
Smaller dimensions means less ground to cover, and therefore, he could learn to properly play the caroms off the wall and in the gaps to cut down runners that attempt to take extra bases.
Overall, Murphy could become a fixture in the lineup for years to come as a result of this change.
Lucas Duda will benefit from the changes in two ways
Winner No. 4: Lucas Duda
The Mets have found a middle of the lineup hitter for the next decade. He is the "dude" of this generation. He's Lucas Duda. The 6'4" quiet giant has become a fan favorite in Citi Field. He has played 100 games this year before being slowed down by concussion symptoms.
Before that, he had hit 10 home runs as a starter with 50 RBI and a .292 AVG. These are all fantastic totals for a man that the casual fan has not heard of until late last year. He is a powerful lefty in the lineup.
Imagine how many fly balls went to die in the spacious gaps of Citi Field this past year from his bat. When they move the walls in expect a few more of those to go the distance. He could be a 30 home-run hitter in Citi Field as soon as next year as a direct result of the change in dimensions.
He has shown he can hit for average as well. He will be able to drive in more runs, and the team will score more with himWright and Ike Davis in the meat of the order.
That will be a scary combination in any park, but when they learn how to hit in their home and recognize where to hit it to for extra bases, it will be a lethal part of the order once again.
Bay will have the best year of his Mets career in 2012
Winner No. 3: Jason Bay
The Mets signed Jason Bay as a free agent prior to the 2010 season. They did so with very high expectations and in hindsight bid against themselves (thank you Omar). He was supposed to bring balance to the lineup and protect Wright. His job was simple—hit home runs. He failed miserably.
In his first season, he hit six. This year, he doubled that with 12. Not too impressive for a man who hit 36 in Boston right before he signed here. He has two seasons left. The fans (and I have been one of them) have called for his departure many times over in the first two years.
That is not likely. He is owed too much money at this time. The best thing the Mets can do is hope he builds off his decent season this year. The combination of that hope when combined with new dimensions could potentially make him feel more like his old self. Perhaps, not the man who hit 36 in Boston, but maybe the guy who hit 35 in Pittsburgh.
It will help his defense as well. He will be able to cover less ground. They are considering moving him to centerfield. If they do, he will be able to do well there as a result of the changes. He will get his stats up and his confidence no doubt will follow as well.
Then, the fans will have been able to enjoy a couple of good years for his contract, and he can get a decent market-value deal elsewhere or choose to re-sign with the Mets for less money. It will all be possible because of the changes.
Wright can't blame Citi Field next year
Winner No. 2: David Wright
When it comes to the dimensions of Citi Field, no one has suffered more criticism than David Wright. Here's why. For the first full four years (2005-2008) of his career, he averaged nearly 30 home runs and 110 RBI a season. Even if you throw in the rookie year of 2004, he hit 14 home runs in 69 games.
David Wright agreed with Shea Stadium. He loved it there. He was a .300 type of hitter there. In 2009, his power numbers dropped significantly. He hit 10 in Citi Field.
He played 144 games, so health was not a factor. He simply struggled. When you factor in that he is a great opposite field hitter, you can see why. He is forced to hit to the deepest parts of the field. If he tries to pull the ball, he's hitting to ridiculous dimensions in left field too.
His power numbers have rebounded a bit last year but have dipped again this year, though that is primarily due to injury. In 2010, only 12 of his 29 homers were in Citi Field. This season, he has hit a total of 12, but only five were at home.
It's easy to see that he is developing into a gap hitter at home as opposed to a power hitter. This will change next year. It has to. With centerfield and left field being moved in slightly, he will be able to connect with more long balls next year.
There will be more of those doubles turning into taters. He will build his confidence again and become the face of this team that he once was. The stigma that Citi Field has gotten into his head will become nothing more than a faint memory.
Along with his power, he will drive in more runs and be the dangerous bat in the three spot we all know him to be. He will not be pressing so hard, therefore, he will not be chasing as many bad pitches and strike outs will be cut down as a result as well.
Overall, we will see a return of David Wright as the undisputed best third baseman in the N.L.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson will finally build the team he wanted
Winner No. 1: Sandy Alderson
Of all the winners from the moving of the dimensions of the Citi Field outfield, the biggest has to be someone that's not a player. Mets GM Sandy Alderson is the biggest winner for three reasons.
First, the changing of the dimensions allows him to get free agent bats down the road to come to a more enticing, hitter-friendly ballpark.
Secondly, the offense will improve even more, and that includes some of the players that don't really have a spot but deserve one. As they get even better, their value will rise and their trade value gets even higher. Alderson can use that to build a better team down the road. Similar to what he was able to get for Beltran in July.
For example, Nick Evans is a good hitter. He gets better as he gets the opportunity to play. He has admitted that he feels better when he can get comfortable. He will never really get that chance in Queens.
It is becoming more apparent that he will be a bench player and pinch hitter. That role may not be the best thing for him. By this time next year, we may be talking about what the Mets were able to pick up by trading him to another team that wanted to use him as a starter. That would actually be beneficial to both sides.
Another example may be a Justin Turner if Murphy takes over second permanently. The same scenario could then apply to him.
This is not definite, but it is a possibility that the team could explore. However, if those players (and others Alderson may have in mind) don't have a decent park to showcase their abilities in, it all gets washed away.
By changing the dimensions, it allows good hitters to really show their potential to other teams as well as the Mets. That will help the Mets GM in the long run.
Finally, it will help Alderson keep his job long term. The team will prove successful on the field, and a successful team leads to a happy owner. When owners are happy, they tend to extend contracts of personnel.
Overall, moving the walls in just a little and making the actual height of the walls shorter is a stroke of genius. It ensures that the team is preparing for a healthy and happy offensive future while not forgetting about their pitching.
The pitchers will have to adjust here just like the hitters. In the end, the cream will rise to the top and the very best Mets players will be the end result.
The move does more than move some walls physically, metaphorically, it tears down some too.